Through exhibitions, programs and partnerships we strive to be an active community resource, connecting contemporary audiences to Esherick’s brilliant creations and the beauty of the everyday.

Current Exhibition

Movement is Life

March 2, 2024 – June 2, 2024

Rhythms, Wharton Esherick, 1922.

Movement is Life explores modern dance as a context for the emergence of Wharton Esherick’s art. In the early 1920s, Esherick underwent an extraordinary transformation: he metamorphosed from an under-appreciated impressionist painter to a woodcarver whose dynamic modernist forms would carry him through an illustrious career. Esherick’s earliest woodworks—woodblock prints and decorative reliefs on frames and furniture—used swirling lines and rhythmic patterns to depict the natural world as alive. With his gouges, he rendered plants, animals, and human figures as pulsing with vital energies emanating from within them. Esherick struck this new direction at a time when he was involved with communities of women who practiced a form of modern dance called “rhythmics.” Broadly speaking, rhythmics was part of an early twentieth-century move toward using dance to revitalize world-worn bodies by reconnecting people with the rhythms of nature. Isadora Duncan, the most famous practitioner of this “natural dance,” gestured to the undulations of waves and breath, declaring “movement is life.”

The exhibition draws together a selection of woodblock prints, carvings, and archival photographs from the WEM collections, created during the five-year period, 1919-1924.


This installation will be on view in our Visitor Center, which is open during our tour hours. Please note, guests wishing to enter the Studio must make advance reservations for a tour.

Upcoming Exhibition

Rhythms: 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition

June 13, 2024 – September 8, 2024

Often defined as a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound, the idea of rhythm has extended across Esherick’s career, taking on multiple meanings. Rhythms, the Wharton Esherick Museum’s 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition, takes as its inspiration the expansive way that Wharton Esherick integrated the idea of rhythms into every part of his life and work. While the artists featured in this exhibition each think differently about this concept, each skillfully uses Esherick’s chosen medium of wood to invite us into the patterns shaping their own lives and thoughts. All twenty-five artists explore this idea materially and conceptually, offering insight into the cadence of their practice and their creative aspirations. They invite us to ponder the rhythms at play in our own lives, the patterns that shape who we are, and how effectively wood can engage this expansive idea. 

Rhythms opens on June 13, 2024. The exhibition featuring the works of all 25 included artists will be hosted virtually here our website. A selection of the artworks awarded First, Second, Third place and Honorable Mention will also be on display in the Visitor Center through September 8th, which is open during our tour hours. Please note, guests wishing to enter the Studio must make advance reservations for a tour.

Upcoming Offsite Exhibition

The Crafted World of Wharton Esherick
at Brandywine Museum of Art

October 12, 2024 – January 19, 2025

This exhibition explores the interdisciplinary creativity of Wharton Esherick (1887-1970), the famed American artist best known as the father of the Studio Furniture Movement.

Esherick considered his hillside home and studio, now the Wharton Esherick Museum (WEM), the best representation of his iconoclastic vision, calling it “an autobiography in three dimensions.” Built between 1926 and 1966, his unconventional escape on the verdant slopes of Valley Forge Mountain houses almost 3000 iconic works of art from across Esherick’s seven decades of artistic practice.

The Crafted World brings selections from this rich and rarely loaned collection to a broader public, including many objects never before seen except in Esherick’s home and studio. Detailing the artist’s career from his early woodcut illustrations for books by members of the avant-garde literati to his revolutionary reimagining of furniture forms as organic sculpture, works will be presented in thematic vignettes that invite visitors into Esherick’s story and bring the essence of his creative world into the gallery.


This exhibition will be on view at the Brandywine Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA

Off the Shelf: Wharton Esherick Museum Book Club

Calling all Esherick fans and readers! Off the Shelf is an Esherick-like twist on the classic book club! It provides the opportunity for bookworms, Esherick fans, and local community members alike to explore Wharton Esherick’s legacy through the artist’s own richly stocked bookshelves, as well as recently published books that illuminate Esherick’s artistic networks and enduring legacy.

Meetings are once a month and take place in Esherick’s 1956 Workshop and features an exclusive look into WEM’s special collections and archives to explore materials related to the month’s book. Discussions will be moderated by friend of the museum, WEM board member, and Director of West Chester University Special Collections, Ron McColl, and will feature occasional guest specialists.

Imprint: Rhythms

Imprint 2024 is our 16th annual high school print competition and exhibition! This online exhibition represents a juried selection of works submitted by high school students from across Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.

The Imprint program encourages new generations of young artists in the medium of relief printmaking. For this year’s Imprint exhibition we introduced the theme of ‘Rhythms.’ Much of Esherick’s creative practice was shaped by the actors and dancers who surrounded him. He consistently found a way to incorporate that graceful movement into his work, from the Rhythms(1922) woodcut print to his Spiral Library Ladder (1969), and beyond!

Recognizing the pivotal role that printmaking played in Esherick’s life, we are delighted to once again highlight young artists who represent the future of this powerful medium, with Imprint. We were once again astounded by the skill and creativity of the submissions and send a huge thank you to all the art teachers and students who shared their work with us!

Geocentrism by Brandon Bacordo of Abington Senior High School

Artist Opportunities

Everything Else

Center for Creative Works Residency

In April of 2018, the Wharton Esherick Museum launched a new partnership with the Center for Creative Works, an art studio focusing on developing creative workplace potential and cultural identity for people with intellectual disabilities. During the residency, a dedicated group of artists from CCW are on site weekly to draw inspiration from Esherick’s work through observation, sketching, model-making and discussion. With guidance from furniture makers and woodworking instructors the resident CCW artists refine their designs and techniques at the CCW woodshop and facilities in Wynnewood.

Philly Touch Tours

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other generous funders, the Wharton Esherick Museum has engaged Philly Touch Tours to design, develop and host accessible touch experiences for people with vision loss. Philly Touch Tours LLC, founded in 2015, provides accessibility consulting and touch tour program design for museums and cultural institutions and Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training for museum and cultural institution staff. Philly Touch Tours will, in collaboration with the Museum, design and facilitate touch tours, provide training for Museum staff and volunteers on leading tours for individuals with vision loss and produce Braille and large print materials. The program aims to inspire curiosity and facilitate a meaningful experience for people with vision loss, while disseminating information about The Wharton Esherick Museum’s history, its collection and its active engagement with the public.

CraftNOW

Launched in 2014, CraftNOW Philadelphia unites the leading institutions and artists of Philadelphia’s craft community in a celebration of the city’s rich legacy of craft, its internationally-recognized contemporary craft scene, and its important role as an incubator for arts based in wood, clay, fiber, metal and glass. Through both creating and spotlighting events during the week of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, CraftNOW invites locals and visitors alike to explore Philadelphia’s innovations in the world of the handmade.

The Wharton Esherick Museum is a proud member of the consortium of individuals, galleries, museums, universities, retailers, and civic organizations who participate in CraftNOW each November. For details on CraftNOW events visit our event calendar.